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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 03/10/15

Guests: Dick Durbin, Marie Harf

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN -- HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I would be pleased to talk more about this important matter, but I know there have been questions about my e-mail. HAYES: Hillary Clinton breaks her silence and causes a "Veep"-like media frenzy. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`ve got to eat the yogurt now. I mean, there will be cameras on you. This is life dairy defcon 1. HAYES: Tonight, separating the news from the spectacle, with Senator Dick Durbin and State Department spokesperson Marie Harf. CLINTON: I opted for convenience. HAYES: Then, Republican war on peace talks continues as two more sign Tom Cotton`s letter to the mullahs. Plus, the whistle-blower who says Rick Scott banned the term "climate change" joins me live. And, as the racism story at an Oklahoma fraternity continues to blow up. CROWD (chanting): There will never be a (AUDIO DELETED) at SAE -- HAYES: Ta-Nehisi Coates on why we only act when racism is caught on tape. ALL IN starts right now. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Hillary Clinton today made what was effectively the first major campaign appearance of her near certain 2016 presidential bid and it was not the one she would have chosen. In a 20-minute news conference this afternoon at the U.N., Clinton spoke publicly for the first time about her decision to exclusively use a private e-mail address while secretary of state. It was a surreal scene at the U.N., where Clinton had been introduced earlier in the day as a future president before delivering a speech on women`s rights. Hundreds of reporters, the one who managed to navigate the U.N.`s notoriously difficult credentialing system packed into a room that featured a replica of a Picasso`s Guernica to the left of the podium. Organizers had moved a group of flags from behind Clinton`s podium to in front of the painting in order to make her news conference seem less like an official United Nations address. But as NBC`s Andrea Mitchell reported, they could not move the blue background behind her, emblazoned with the word "Security Council" in French, because it was vaulted to the wall. Clinton spoke first about women`s rights and then blasted the letter Republican senators sent to Iran concerning nuclear negotiations. When she transitioned to the topic of her e-mail, she made clear she would rather be discussing something else. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: Now, I would be pleased to talk more about this important matter, but I know there have been questions about my e-mail. So, I want to address that directly and then I will take a few questions from you. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Clinton told reporters her decision to use a personal e-mail address while secretary of state was a matter of convenience. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: When I got to work as secretary of state, I opted for convenience to use my personal e-mail account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device from my work and for my personal e-mails instead of two. Looking back, it would have been better for me to use two separate phones and two e-mail accounts. I thought using one device would be simpler and, obviously, it hasn`t worked out that way. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Clinton said that while she turned over to the State Department every e-mail that could potential be considered work related, a total of 55,000 pages, she chose the delete the e-mails that she considered personal. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: We went through a thorough process to identify all of my work-related e-mails and deliver them to the State Department. At the end, I chose not to keep my private personal e-mail, e-mails about planning Chelsea`s wedding, or my mother`s funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends, as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in boxes. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Clinton also told reporters her e-mails, which were run through a server she owned that was registered to her home were secure from hackers and that she did not use e-mail to send classified material. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: The system we used was set up for President Clinton`s office and it had numerous safeguards. It was on property guarded by the Secret Service and there were no security breaches. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Just a short time ago, I asked Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin about Clinton`s performance. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Senator, you made some news this morning on the matter of Hillary Clinton`s e-mails this morning, saying that you basically wanted to hear her side of the story. You wanted an explanation of why this procedure was chosen. Today, she came out. She gave that explanation. I`m curious, are you satisfied with the explanation that we heard today? SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: I read through it. I actually didn`t witness her press conference, but I read through the testimony or at least the statement that she made. And at least I will tell you as I look at it initially, she answered the questions. All of the e-mails that she sent in to the Department of State were sent to dot-gov addresses. So, they`re part of the official e-mail traffic of the department, fully disclosable, fully compliant with the law. The only things she held back were the personal nature, but she`s ended up disclosing I believe 55,000 different e-mails. She`s gone above and beyond the requirements of the law to show that nothing was done to break the law. HAYES: What do you think about the fact that the rest of those e- mails that were in that combined e-mail address that were not selected to be preserved with the State Department were, in fact, deleted. A lot of people raising questions about that today. DURBIN: Well, of course, those are her personal e-mails and as she said, they included plans for her daughter`s wedding, her mother`s funeral, favorite yoga exercises, what`s the weather going to be like tomorrow. So, you know, it gets right down to it. A lot is the common traffic of e-mail that most of us are engaged in every day, had nothing to do with her official responsibilities. Those e-mails were sent in to the Department of State, have been preserved and been disclosed. HAYES: Finally, how do you feel about 20 more months of answering questions about Hillary Clinton? DURBIN: Well, listen, I`ve been through this. I was through the initial Bill Clinton campaign and his re-elect. I know the attacks that they faced throughout the campaigns and their presidency. They are going to go on nonstop. There are some people who have made a practice and profession out of attacking the Clinton family, and it`s just amazing to me that Hillary is seriously considering this run for presidency knowing that this is in her future. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: It is, indeed, amazing. Earlier today, the State Department announced that e-mails that Clinton turned over will be posted to a public Web site after review, a fact that Clinton today hailed as an unprecedented example of transparency. This evening, I asked State Department spokesperson Marie Harf how the State Department can be sure that Clinton turned over the proper emails and did not delete official correspondence. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERON: It`s up to each official to turn over records they have that may be official records for safekeeping and for the purposes of FOIA, for the purposes of becoming official records. She says she has done that. That is her responsibility. We`re going through those 55,000 pages now so we can publicly release them. That`s very important, certainly for the public interest. She said she has turned over everything and she`s going to have to be the one to speak to that. She has and we`re moving forward with the review. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Joining me now, MSNBC national correspondent Joy Reid, and MSNBC contributor Sam Seder, hosts of the political daily talk show "Majority Report". All right. Well, today was the rollout in its own weird way, right? Today was the first campaign event I think it`s fair to say for Hillary Clinton presidential candidate 2016, even though she`s not declared. JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean -- HAYES: What was your reaction? REID: I don`t know. I mean, am I bad person because I don`t think that e-mail thing is the biggest scandal of this -- HAYES: No. REID: I mean, I feel like, look, you know, Colin Powell used his personal e-mail. I think that this -- we`re sort of witnessing the kind of Snowdenization of at least the media discourse. We`ve come from a couple of generations from a country that was horrified to find out that LBJ and Nixon were taping everything in the White House, taping their phone calls, to feeling entitled to every e-mail, tweet, text, and every content, or every core puzzle inside of minds of our political leaders. You know, I think that the only people who truly, truly care about this and will care about this in the long run are people who do this for a living, people who are reporters who feel like they want to be able to follow Hillary Clinton`s comings and goings, maybe historians and archivists. Most voters are not going to be thinking about this when Hillary Clinton runs. HAYES: So, let me just respond to that. There`s two issues here, what is the substantive issue, why is this problem, and sort of the political ramifications. Right. So, as a journalist, right, substantive there are reasons these records exist. I want there to be public records both in real time for FOIA purposes, and in, you know, perpetuity for history of official correspondence. That`s important thing, and to the extent it`s undertaken to evade that, that seems deeply problematic. I`m, however, still not convinced that`s the case. REID: Right. HAYES: I really don`t know. But that`s why I care as a journalist. I agree, it`s unclear how it all shakes out. The one thing I think it does is make Democrats get a little uncomfortable. REID: Here comes the Clintons -- SAM SEDER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. Before we get to the political, let me just say -- HAYES: I don`t want to get -- (CROSSTALK) SEDER: The fundamental dilemma is -- I mean, because you mentioned Colin Powell. HAYES: He deleted everything. Oh, gone. Completely gone. REID: They`re gone. SEDER: And John Kerry apparently does all his business on a dot-gov at this point. That`s now the new law. But presumably he has a private e- mail account and presumably makes a decision every time he goes to e-mail, this one is going to be business and this one is going to be personal. REID: Right. SEDER: And so, the dilemma is like, I don`t know what the solution is to this. We can argue as to there could have been a better political decision made, one that might appear in some way to be more transparent, but I don`t know exactly what could have been more transparent. HAYES: OK. So, this to me -- the point you make there is an important point and thought probably the most -- some of her answers were not persuasive at all. The most persuasive was when people said, how can we trust that you retroactively selected the right e-mails? Her response was basically, let`s say I had two devices, a personal and professional. I would be selecting in the moment and, of course, everyone does that now, right? So, there is no enforceable way, people are going to have private e- mail, right? There`s really no enforceable way to keep -- but that said compliance matters, having the two devices matters, right? Like those lines matter. I know in the White House where the Presidential Record Act pertains, they are really pretty intense about this, precisely because even the appearance of it really matters in terms of historical records and complying with the law. REID: Right. But at the same time though the law that specifically pertains to e-mail, you know, it actually was signed in 2014, right? So, it`s not as if at the time the law -- the Records Act had already been amended to account for e-mail and why was that done? Because of the media over Benghazi and this hunt for some sort of conspiracy on the part of Republicans, then you had the White House, you had the Congress pass this law to extend -- might have been more the IRS actually, it`s either one of the two or one of these two scandals, where you suddenly have this we need to add e-mail and make sure we have all of Hillary`s e-mails. This does have -- it germinated from the Benghazi thing, so I`m a little bit dubious of it as a scandal. And, again, you know what? Listen, these guys have personal e-mails. They have personal lives. If she wants to plan Chelsea`s wedding, I don`t have a problem with her doing it on her Gmail. HAYES: Right. But no one does, right? That`s not the issue. The issue is that they set up this e-mail that they were all going to use everything on it and then after the fact. I guess my point is, if you run this in an opposite direction and it`s Karl Rove, right, that`s the whole point of this, right? Are you inclined to think the worst of them or not? REID: You know, Colin Powell was helping plan a war we didn`t have to wage. So, I`m a lot more concerned with the fact that all his e-mails are gone. Well, but there`s not a lot of outrage about that. HAYES: Right. If it was Karl Rove, right, and if you did find out that someone in the Bush administration or someone you are not inclined to trust basically ran this procedure after the fact they got to say you get this, I stay this, you get this -- the point is, fundamentally will come down at the that, right? If you don`t trust Hillary Clinton, if you think the Clintons are shady, if you think she`s trying to cover up Benghazi, then that`s not going to be do enough, right? REID: Yes. HAYES: And if you do, you do. And like in some ways, that Rorschach test is going to be the defining feature of the next 20 months. SEDER: Right. And I would also expand that, that universe, if you are less interested in Hillary as the Democratic nominee, you may see this as just an opportunity as opposed -- I mean, because fundamentally at the end of this, like what is it that we`re chasing? Really I mean -- what is it we`re chasing here? HAYES: That`s he question -- I want to find out about those cattle futures, I know what happened at the Rose law firm of Whitewater. I want to know why he was on the tarmac getting that haircut. SEDER: The Republicans just want the opportunity to go fishing and keep this alive for as long as possible. And so, you know -- I mean, I would much rather be critical of Hillary Clinton on a myriad of sort of -- REID: There`s a lot of them. HAYES: Right, but this is exactly everyone saying we`re back here again, which is liberals and people to the left during the Clinton years spent all their time divided between frustration at the sort of lots of policies, defending them against this ridiculous onslaught, particularly culminating in impeachment, and there are a lot people being like, here we go again. SEDER: There`s also one other point too, you know, Jeb Bush running for president. The reason why we care about this Hillary Clinton -- let`s be clear -- is because there`s a presumption she`s running for president. Jeb Bush as governor released -- did the exact same thing, but with less e- mails. Scott Walker, same thing as -- HAYES: Yes. Although, let`s just say the regulations are distinct and different, right? So, whether they`re compliant or not, it isn`t apples and oranges. SEDER: OK, that being the case, but there`s not even a hint like -- HAYES: Well, that`s the question, right? SEDER: Some other dynamic. HAYES: Can anyone else withstand the level of Clinton scrutiny? And are the Clinton -- is it because of the Clintons or because the way they act? REID: And are we now in the media, is the media now buying into that same reflexive Clinton skepticism, because it`s them, there must be something nefarious in the emails and we`re going to go on this. You know, it is sort of a witch-hunt. We`re just assuming there must be something nefarious in what she did other than maybe she liked using her Gmail. HAYES: Right. Well, it wasn`t a Gmail, or whatever. REID: Whatever. Hopefully, it wasn`t, then I`d be upset. HAYES: Thank you both. All right. Florida Governor Rick Scott is denying he ever ordered officials in Florida`s Department of Environmental Protection to not use the words climate change and global warming. But tonight, I will talk to a former official who says, "Oh, yes, he did." Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Only a day after 47 Senate Republicans sent a letter to Iran in an attempt to undermine the Obama administration`s nuclear talks, the backlash is already in full force. This was the rather incendiary cover of "The New York Daily News" today, calling the signatories to the letter "traitors" and inspiring the #47traitors, which has been trending nationwide on Twitter all day, even amid Hillary Clinton`s first press conference responding to her email flap. This hour, a petition asking the Obama administration to prosecute the 47 senators who signed the letter. It`s closing in on the threshold of the 100,000 signatures for a response from the White House. Coming up next, the backlash in Washington and Iran and how the letter may actually be backfiring. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: Either these senators were trying to be helpful to the Iranians or harmful to the commander-in-chief in the midst of high-stakes international diplomacy. Either answer does discredit to the letter`s signatories. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Hillary Clinton weighed in on the continuing firestorm over the open letter to the Iranian regime signed by 47 Republican sports which says President Obama doesn`t have the authority to make a lasting nuclear deal without Senate buy-in. Vice President Joe Biden, himself a senator, of course, for 36 years, blasted the letter in an unusually strongly worded statement. Quote, "The letter sent on March 9th expressly designed to undercut a sitting president in the midst of sensitive international negotiations is beneath the dignity of an institution I revere. This letter sends a highly misleading signal to friend and foe alike that our commander-in-chief cannot deliver on America`s commitments, a message that is as false as it is dangerous." And while the letter to Iran began with the condescending first line, "It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government you may not fully understand our constitutional system," the response from Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, who holds a PhD in international relations from the University of Denver -- one should note -- questioned the signatories` own understanding of foreign affairs. Quote, "The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfill the obligations they understand with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations." Democrats taking the Senate floor today to condemn the letter, which was spearheaded by freshman Senator Tom Cotton, the Republican from Arkansas, there is new evidence it`s having an adverse effect on bipartisan efforts to maintain pressure on Iran. Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Corker, who`s sponsoring a bill that would require congressional approval of nuclear deal, is one of seven Republican senators who chose not to sign the letter. And he told "Politico", quote, "I knew it was going to be only Republicans on the letter. I just don`t view that as where I need to be today. My goal is to get 67 or more people on something that will affect the outcome." But the appearance of partisanship doesn`t seem to concern two 2016 contenders who now want to get in on the letter action despite not being members of the U.S. Senate. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal who signed it today and former Texas Governor Rick Perry, no longer even in office, who tweeted that he`d be proud and honored to sign. I asked deputy State Department Marie Harf about accusations within Iran that the letter shows the U.S. would not be able to keep its end of a possible nuclear bargain. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) HARF: Well, certainly, Chris, inside the negotiating room, we have been very clear that if we get to an agreement, we will uphold our responsibilities just as we expect Iran to. But to be frank with you, these kinds of distractions, these kinds of partisan politics are really -- they play a role here in terms of the fact that we are negotiating a very complicated agreement and to have these kinds of distractions are really reckless and they`re very irresponsible. And we as America, we as the United States are strongest overseas in these kinds of negotiations when we speak with one voice and when we don`t bring partisan politics into very serious foreign policy discussions. HAYES: The concern, of course, that members of the Senate have articulated -- Tom Cotton among them -- is essentially they are not being significantly prepped and that the administration is prepared to give away the store to Iran. HARF: Well, I`d separate a few things out. First of all, I think there`s no issue we have talked to Congress about more certainly since I`ve been at the State Department than Iran. And throughout all of those talks, we have been very clear -- our bottom lines have not changed. We need to get to one-year breakout time and we need to cut off the four pathways for Iran to get to a nuclear weapon. We have briefed many members of Congress in varying levels of detail. They play a key role here. But if Congress wants to play even more of a role, the way to do that is not to take this kind of reckless and irresponsible behavior. Look, I think it`s disingenuous to claim it`s intended to help the negotiators. I think anyone who sees it understands this is intended to really scuttle these negotiations and I think that`s incredibly dangerous. HAYES: Does John Kerry trust Mohammad Javad Zarif who is the foreign minister of Iran? HARF: This isn`t about trust. We`ve always said this is not about Iran. This is about Iran taking verifiable, credible concrete steps to assure the world that it`s upholding its end of the deal here, under the joint plan of action, which we`ve been living under since we finished it in November a few years ago, they have upheld their end of the bargain. That`s not based on us, that`s based on the IAEA verifying that. So, none of this is about trust. That`s why we need transparency, monitoring, verification into the program. HAYES: Can I just say -- I`ve heard you give that answer before and I understand why you give it. But any negotiation -- HARF: It`s the truth. That`s why. HAYES: But any negotiation is about trust at a certain level, right? I mean, if you genuinely think the person across the table from you is completely duplicitous, cannot be held to their word at all it`s hard to have a negotiation. Usually, you`re negotiating something that`s ultimately verifiable. HARF: Well, I think that one of the reasons I actually think the joint plan of action this first step agreement we agreed to in Geneva was so important is that we had never come to this kind of agreement with the Iranians before with this regime. And so, we were able to put that in place not knowing how this was going to play out. And the fact that they have kept all of their commitments under it -- again, this isn`t about trust, it`s about meeting commitments and really setting the stage for us to negotiate a comprehensive agreement. But I will guarantee you, Chris, if we get to an agreement, it will not be about trust, it will be about verification. And if we see them breaching the agreement not living up to their commitments, there are many ways we have of dealing with that and we will be on the lookout for it. HAYES: Marie Harf of the State Department, thank you very much. HARF: Thanks, Chris. (END VIDEOTAPE) (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: I`m joined now by Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat from Illinois. Senator, I`d like to get your reaction to start off to the news that not just Republicans members of the Senate but Republicans outside the Senates, including Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, perhaps others, are so eager to sign on to the letter that was authored by Tom Cotton to the Iranian regime. What do you make of that? DURBIN: Well, I can just tell you they`ve lost sight of our goal. The president is trying to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and avoid another war in the Middle East. He`s in the midst of these delicate negotiations, nothing has been announced in terms of any final agreement and won`t be for several weeks. Forty-seven Republican senators sent a letter to the ayatollah in Iran to tell them they`re wasting their time. There`s never going to be an agreement because the Republicans won`t agree to it in Congress. That to me is breathtaking. It is unprecedented. We can`t find a time in history when any political party has done this to a president. HAYES: "The Daily News" had a cover with several of the members of the Senate signed on to it with the headline, "Traitors". Do you agree with that assessment? DURBIN: Oh, of course, I`m not going to use that term. I think that goes way beyond the pale, but what they`ve done is clearly unprecedented and it doesn`t help. What the president`s trying to do is make sure that we have peace in the Middle East. There are some of them that are itching for us to have a military confrontation. I`m not one of those people. If we can resolve this issue in the Middle East without American troops on the ground, without risking American lives and still have a nuclear free Iran to protect our allies and our own future interests, that`s the best outcome and this Republican letter doesn`t help. HAYES: As a member of the Senate long-standing member of the Senate, member of leadership, doesn`t the president have a constitutional obligation to come to the Senate with the eventually deal that is if there is a deal negotiated an eventually deal that is negotiated -- doesn`t he have to do that? DURBIN: In one respect yes. Any congressionally imposed sanctions, laws passed by Congress can, of course, be changed or enforced by Congress. Executive action would be a different category. But when you get into the question about whether it`s an executive agreement or a treaty, you know, that`s a debate that`s been going on for a long time. Think about this for a second, the president entered into an executive agreement with Iran in 2013 to start these negotiations. Iran agreed to bring in inspectors so that the people can look around and find out exactly what they were doing. Iran agreed to shut down any development of nuclear power during this period of time. This was an executive agreement never considered or taken up by Congress. It`s an example where the president is using his authority as other presidents have to try to move forward toward a peaceful resolution. HAYES: Hillary Clinton today had strong words for your colleagues in the Senate. What was your reaction to her comments on their letter to the Iranian regime? DURBIN: Hillary Clinton, of course, has served as secretary of state. She knows when it comes to these negotiations, delicate, important negotiations between nations, what you have is your word and your promise. And now, we have the Republican senators, 47 of them, stepping in and saying, we don`t care what the president agrees to, we`re going to stop it. You know, that really would defeat the purpose of a president as a leader in foreign policy and commander-in-chief using his office to keep America safe. Think about this for a second, it wasn`t until last week that the Republicans in Congress were able to fund the Department of Homeland Security after almost six months. So, now, they`re saying before there`s any international agreement, it has to go through the Republican leadership and Congress, you know, forgive me but I think there`s a better way to do it if we can achieve the solution of a nuclear-free Iran and a peaceful Middle East. HAYES: Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat from Illinois, always a pleasure, sir. Thank you very much. DURBIN: Thank you. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: There`s been a verdict in the biggest music copyright case in a generation. It is not what I thought it was going to be. I will explain ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Tonight, Florida Governor Rick Scott is denying the bombshell allegations we brought you last night that officials in Florida`s Department of Environmental Protection were banned from using the words climate change. The report from the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting alleges that DEP had been told not to use the words climate change and global warming in official reports and communications, and that the unwritten policy was communicated in 2011 after Rick Scott, an established climate change denier, came into office. Christopher Byrd, who worked as an attorney with the DEP`s office of general counsel from 2008 to 2013 said that he was warned not to use climate change and related terms during a 2011 staff meeting, quote, "I did infer from this meeting that this was a new policy that these words were to be prohibited for use from official DEP policymaking with our clients." Several other staffers reported similar experiences and earlier today Governor Rick Scott responded. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Governor, were you aware that scientists were being told not to speak about climate change? And will scientists in the future be able to speak about climate change in their studies? GOV. RICK SCOTT, (R) FLORIDA: Well, first off that`s untrue. At our Department of Environmental Protection. Look, there`s lots of conversations about this issue. From my standpoint, like every issue, my goal is instead of talking about it let`s do something about it, so in the last four years we put money in beach nourishment with regard to flood mitigation, settled a decades old lawsuit in the Everglades, historic funding to deal with the water quality, the Tamiami Trail, we`re raising that. Historic funding for springs. So my goal is continue to make progress. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Notice he didn`t actually use the words climate change there either. We asked the governor`s office to comment on the report. And they told us, quote, "it`s not true," didn`t specify what specifically. But former DEP attorney Christopher Byrd, the person we showed you before who was on the record saying it is true, he is standing by what he told the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting that after Rick Scott was elected governor, officials at the Florida`s DEP were explicitly warned not to use terms climate change or global warming. And Christopher Byrd joins me next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Joining me now is Christopher Byrd, former senior assistant general counsel for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Mr. Byrd, can you tell me when and how the policy in question of not saying climate change or global warming was communicated to you? CHRISOPHER BYRD, FRM. ASSISTANT GENERAL COUNSEL FLORIDA DEP: Yes, shortly after Rick Scott was elected in 2010 and was inaugurated at the beginning of the next year, 2011, the general counsel`s office called a staff meeting with all the lawyers to warn us that things were going to change under the new administration and within those changes were certain policies that would prohibit us from using these term: climate change, global warming, sustainability and even sea level rise. HAYES: Wait a second. They told you could not use the phrase sea level rise in your official capacity for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection? BYRD: That is correct. It was a clear direction that this administration was not on board from a partisan position with science regarding climate change. HAYES: This was verbally communicated to you by your manager? BYRD: By my superiors in the office of general counsel, yes. HAYES: Did they explicitly say this is coming from the governor? BYRD: No, they did not. But this was during a time when the governor`s office was laying off a vast number of employees in Florida statewide and targeting specific scientists for firing. So we knew that if it came to us or this policy, we wanted to keep our jobs, we better not use those terms. HAYES: So, you`re being told, you`re being told there`s a new -- there`s a new boss in town, it`s the governor, obviously he`s elected and he has the right under that to set policy. At the same time there are lots of layoffs of people in your department and you put those two together and not only do you understand you`re not supposed to say these words but if you do, you could be running a risk of losing your job? BYRD: Exactly. It was very clear. HAYES: Are there other people who had the same experience? BYRD: Yeah, unfortunately as a result of the story, other employees of the department are now able to come out and speak about their experience having their presentations and reports actually censored by the governor`s office. Just recently someone who worked for the Department of Health also had climate change stricken from her reports. HAYES: They actually went in and scrubbed it out? BYRD: Before it was able to be published, you had to run it by their office. HAYES: So, what was your reaction to this at the time? I mean did you feel like you could adequately do your job under these constraints? BYRD: Well, at that time I was counsel for the Coral reef Conservation Program in Miami and as you can imagine, we use those terms quite often to describe the threats that are present to the coral reef resources in Florida: climate change, warming, oceans and rising acidic levels in the oceans were great threats to our coral resources so it made it very difficult for us to continue our public outreach in education being essentially gagged from using those terms. HAYES: You were ultimately fired from your position in that -- the Department of Environmental Protection. What do you say to people who say that you are essentially disgruntled. This is sour grapes? BYRD: Oh, I was fired two years ago. I have a very rewarding practice in public interest environmental law here in Florida. I was asked to recount my experiences at DEP under Rick Scott and I`m happy to share the truth with everybody and I`m glad to see others having the courage to step up and speak out. HAYES: What does it mean to you that the State of Florida is currently governed by a man who apparently -- he denies it, but according to what you`re saying doesn`t allow these terms to be used and seems to be burying its head in the sand even though it`s perhaps the state of the union most threatened by things like sea level rise and climate change? BYRD: It`s very concerning, personally, but I`m hoping that as a result of this story, the governor`s office will indeed step up and do what they say, address these issues head on and make progress. There`s no point in denying climate change or banning your scientists from using those words anymore. I hope the governor`s office steps up and shows us that he`s on board and will support science in the state of Florida. HAYES: Christopher Byrd, thanks for joining us. BYRD: Thank you. HAYES: You know it occurs to me one way to definitively rebut this from the governor`s office would just to produce a lot of documents that they published that have the terms climate change or sea level rise. They can just do that and then that would be a pretty convincing rebuttal. We should see. All right, what`s worse, people saying the "n" word on tape or let`s say years of systemic housing discrimination? Well, I`m actually not leaping to join the universal condemnation of the racist frat members, that`s ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: You may remember last week I went to a recording studio here in New York to see for myself whether the biggest music copyright case in a generation, the lawsuit alleging Robin Thicke and Pherrell Williams copied Marvin Gaye`s 1977 hit song "Got to Give it Up" in their 2013 "Blurred Lines" had any merit. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: The thing that`s making you feel like you`re listening to that song, you`re saying is that they`ve got the same -- exact same... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drum pattern. HAYES: Drum pattern. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very similar cowbell pattern, the sound of the cowbell and Marvin Gaye`s whoo! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoo. HAYES: Right. That all over the track is what -- when you hear it is what confuses everybody. So here we go. Let`s play one of these. One, two, three. (MUSIC) HAYES: Awesome. Wow, that sounded great. All right so now let`s listen to "Got to Give it Up." (MUSIC) HAYES: Wow. So, okay, that actually, I find this really illustrative, because lining all that up, right, the way that we did, where we started with the thing that got nailed legally and then something extremely similar didn`t. Like, I`d come down if I`m in the jury, I don`t think it gets to the legal line. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Well, I was wrong. Or maybe I was right but the jury was wrong because today that jury found Thicke and Pharrell guilty of copyright infringement and ordered this pay $7.3 million to the family of Marvin Gaye. Back in two minutes. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: By now I`m guessing you have seen that infamous video of some fraternity brothers at the University of Oklahoma`s Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter singing that song. As son as that went public, the condemnation has been swift and nearly universal. The president condemning immediately. They took the letters down from the frat house, two of the people have since been identified and expelled by the president of the university. Condemnation pouring in understandably and rightly from all quarters including one of the people to condemn it at first was the fraternity mother, woman who I believe lived in the house hung out with the brothers and then after she condemned it, well, this video came out. that`s her saying "n" word, "n" word, "n" word, "n" word. She released a statement today saying she was singing along to the song. But of course the thing that got me thinking was, a, what has been behind closed doors at Sigma Alpha Epsilon for lo these many years, and b it certainly occurs to me that these 19-year-old kids sitting on the bus in their tuxes going to their dance with their dates didn`t write that song on the way to the affair, did they? They probably didn`t write it right before they got on the bus, no, in fact, that song was taught to them somewhere somehow. It`s probably been along for a very long time. And it occurred to me as these two kids get expelled for saying these vile disgusting things to think about Ferguson, Missouri. After the 106-page report from the Department of Justice came out basically chronicling a rogue agency of police that were using their position to humiliate and to extract revenue from the city`s black residents in violation of their constitutional rights in a systemic and unjust fashion that offensive to everything we think about self-determination, liberty and right, that the people that lost their job from the report wasn`t the police chief, it wasn`t the people who engaged in that systemic violation of rights, it was the two police officers who had happened to send racist e- mails. That is what we nab. It`s the racist e-mails. You want to run a department that essentially uses the men in blue to enforce white supremacy? Well, then that might happen, but send a racist email about black people being lazy and being like dogs, well, then that gets you fired. There`s something going on when we have these moments of universal condemnation, when we point and shame and name and say that, that`s racism, that "n" word. That thing happening on the bus, let`s get rid of that, because it lets everyone off the hook about what`s happening off the bus. I had a conversation with my friend Ta-Nehisi Coates over text. He agreed with me. He`s here to talk about it. Stick around. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Joining me now, the aforementioned the Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent at The Atlantic. So, you and I were having this text exchange last night about this. And one level it`s like obviously you can do both, right. We can talk about institutional racism, white supremacy, what happened in Ferguson and also say that, you know, people face consequences for something as vile and disgusting as that, but there`s also a level which it feels to me the ritual by which we go through ritual purification around something as clearly odious as this is somehow in some way letting us offer the hook on other stuff. TA-NEHISI COATES, THE ATLANTIC: No, I totally agree. I mean, I think the importance to the Ferguson report last week while it indicted the government, it necessarily indicts every other citizen in the town, it indicts the whole thing. And so I think what happens is when you have chants like this, it`s very easy to distance yourself, it`s very easy to make our racism something that orcs and trolls and monster practice, but civilized society does not when in fact, you know, for the lion`s share our history, our civilized society has depended on exactly those sorts of practices. That distancing is an essential part of actually white supremacy remaining with us, the blindness is part of it, the innocence as James Baldwin talked about, is part of the process. HAYES: We have to recreate the innocence. And part of recreating the innocence is saying what happened on that bus is not innocent and we condemn it which obviously it is. COATES: But that we`re innocent. Because none of us would... HAYES: Because we would never do that and no one we know would do that. COATES: Right, right, right. Therefore we`re not part of it. HAYES: I should note that these two students, Levi Pettit and Parker Rice, the two students who were expelled, have now issued apologies. They seem heartfelt. They say they were wrong. They were wrong to do it, although Levi Pettit said, "yes, the song was taught to us but that doesn`t work as an explanation." Well, then then who -- that`s the other thing, right. That song -- and I`ve seen this all over Twitter pop up, people from across the country saying, oh, I heard that song 30 years ago. I heard that at Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Yes, I heard someone say, oh, I heard it in Texas. That wasn`t, you know, I mean that song hanging from a tree, that song has -- there`s some back story there. COATES: Right, right, right. But I think, you know, part of this -- and this is like I think the hard thing for us as Americans to get. If you`re going to have a policies like you have in Ferguson, and there`s a great story in The New York Times on Sunday basically pointed out that it wasn`t just Ferguson, Ferguson wasn`t even just the worst. Radley Balko (ph) has been doing great reporting on this, if you are going to -- Sarah Stillman (ph) also at The New Yorker, great reporting on this. If you are going to have policies like that, those sorts of songs are what`s going to happen. There`s a necessary relationship. If you`re going to say it`s OK that we`re going to stop some X number -- disproportionate number of black people basically use them as plunder, part of what happens is you have to justify that and you have to make it OK. And so dehumanizing people is part of that. And then the end result of, you know, it comes back the other way because the fact that the people are dehumanized, you can talk about them in that way. The cycle works. And so as long as we have policies like this, those songs will continue to happen and what we do to distance ourself from the actual policy is, you know, when it pops up we say, oh, no, not, not me, but, you know as we saw with the report this funds actual governments. It`s a part of who we are. HAYES: You say the residents of Ferguson do not have a police problem, they have a gang problem that the gang operates under legal sanction makes no difference, it is a gang nonetheless. There is no other word to describe an armed band of collection agents. COATES: That`s exactly what it is. I mean, I -- people think of law as like, you know, like the tablets of Moses descended from god. But, you know, I can make -- I can set law. Law is set by man, you know, and just because we determine something to be unlawful doesn`t necessarily make it like god`s morality or something. HAYES: Someone once made a distinction between a nation of laws and a nation with laws and I remember talking to someone a scholar of the Soviet Union said, you know, we had this idea that like, oh, it was lawless tyranny. They have tons of laws, right. They would cite you for the law, right. COATES: Like the Nuembgerg laws. I mean, those were laws, too. HAYES: Right, exactly. Like laws can be used in this way. There`s also -- it also occurs to me this is a theme of your work that you`ve been doing on policing shootings, particularly policing, which is we want to keep in the same way that we say the kids on the bus are not us, right, there is a temptation I think particularly in Martin Luther King talked about this in the north and the south of saying, oh, Ferguson, you know, that`s in Missouri. You`ve got this black young man Tony Robinson shot and killed in Madison, Wisconsin, unarmed right? COATES: Right. And now it`s like, well, Madison, Wisconsin, that`s -- that probably went 90 percent for Barack Obama. COATES: And I would push it further. I mean, we even get to -- you know, and I want to say you want accountability on some level, you know, when police officers go out and shoot people when it`s completely unjustified. But at the same time it happens with the police officer where you get focused in on the actual officer and it`s like is this officer going to get punished? HAYES: Did he do the thing in the moment that he said he did? Does the witness contradict him all of that we like? COATES: So, you can imagine a very real future with reform when we actually punish officers but officers keep doing it nonetheless because the system necessitates that, a world in which African-Americans are viewed in a particular way, as you know, they`ve been traditionally viewed in this country, necessitates police killings. And until we get to that sort of structural level... HAYE: But what does that mean, though, right? Because I want to say that there`s some way we train our police officers, come up with policing that doesn`t produce this. COATES: How? How? I mean if you have an implicitly biased population and we`ve -- we have numerous sociological studies on that, how do you deprogram that? How do you have the expectation that somebody is going to live in a country for 20 years, be exposed to a kind of culture that views black people in a certain kind of way and then they get on the job and after six months and in the police academy they suddenly feel different? I can`t tell you i would feel different. Me, you know, as a black... HAYES: And in fact, one of the things we learned from the implicit bias research is that African-Americans who take these implicit bias tests show lower but still elevated of anti-black... COATES: That`s the thing, like, you have to get to a systemic critique. It has to, you know, get beyond punishing individuals. I mean, that`s part of it. I`m not saying these 19-year-olds should walk, but I`m saying that when we just stop there it allows us to distance, you know. HAYES: The ultimate example of this, of course, one of our segment producers Todd Cole (ph) pointed out in the meeting today, of course, was Donald Sterling, who was the white owner of the Los Angeles Clippers who was a real estate empire that was accused of racial discrimination sued by the Department of Justice, settled for essentially kicking black tenants out and making them feel unwelcome. That was fine. As soon as he said that thing on tape, don`t bring black players, presto, he was gone. COATES: Well, because like I think when you use the "n" word it`s shameful which is a different thing, right. It`s shameful. You know. Housing discrimination is not necessarily -- it`s not like Donald Sterling wasn`t written about, he was. Years ago. But housing discrimination is not necessarily shameful. Using certain terms... HAYES: It doesn`t have the moral taboo with that word that those kids on the bus said. COATES: I mean, the viewpoint I think for a lot of people is to view racism or racist terms using racist terminology as a kind of pathology and what we try to do is we want to quarantine ourselves. HAYES: That`s right. COATES: That`s basically what we want to do without realizing, in fact, that it`s already with us, that we can`t actually be quarantined because we`re already part of it. HAYES: Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic, thank you. That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END